Rodney Jerkins

Versatility

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For a brief period in the late '90s, Rodney Jerkins was the hottest producer in R&B, scoring hits with everyone from Mary J. Blige and Destiny's Child to the Spice Girls in a style that mixed the hard funk of Dr. Dre with Whitney Houston-style big diva dramatics. Then the Neptunes happened, and pretty much overnight Jerkins was last year's model. The Atlanta-based producer has never actually retired, but recent clients include Fantasia and Lindsay Lohan, not exactly the cream of the A list. Jerkins' first album under his own name, Versatility, will do little to change the producer's commercial fortunes. Billed as an instrumental album, the songs aren't quite: there are sung hooks by anonymous R&B divas, and many songs feature Jerkins not quite so much rapping as chatting over the beat as if he's talking over his works in progress to a studio visitor. Overall, the album simply sounds like a set of unfinished demos that normally would be making the rounds to artists and managers looking for a new collaborator. Why this was released to the general public is a bit of a mystery.

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